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Unit 1

1.5 Africa from 1200 to 1450

2 min readnovember 30, 2021

William Dramby

AP World History 🌍

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Developments in Africa

Big Picture

Much like the Americas before 1450, Africa was largely tribal or clan-based. Clans are kin-based networks where many people within the community are related. Led by a chief, these smaller communities work with and have conflict with other communities in their area. Islam, the Trans-Saharan Trade Network and the Indian Ocean Trade Network are examples of unifying factors for many of these clans.
Around 1,000 CE and later, many empires did emerge. These kingdoms brought unity, continuity, and complexity to the regions they controlled.

Post-Classical Africa

Ghana 300 CE - 1000 CE, Western African Trade gold for salt with North African Berbers (nomads) who were the middle men with Europe. No state religion. Not as unified as empires that come later
Mali Mansa Musa is a famous and powerful king who built mosques and famous libraries in Timbuktu (capital). Mansa Musa travels the Trans-Saharan Trade Network on his hajj (pilgrimage) to Mecca in Arabia, exposing those along the way to Mali’s wealth and power 1200 CE - 1400 CE, replaced Ghana, Islam unites Mali and those it conquers
Songhay1400-1500, replaced Mali, Conquered Mali and then collapsed because of slave trade
Swahili CoastThis region is along the eastern coast of Africa allowing its use of both the Trans-Saharan Trade Network and the Indian Ocean Trade Network.  Its city-states were united in trade and variations of the Bantu language.  Its largest city-state, Great Zimbabwe, was protected by a large wall demonstrating the unity of its people.
EthiopiaThis eastern kingdom was a lone Christian kingdom in a region converting to Islam

Mansa Musa. Image Courtesy of Wikipedia

These African societies have many shared characteristics. Family and communal activities were the centerpiece of the clan or village. Music and dancing were a common way of both entertainment but also veneration of the dead.  Most Sub-Saharan societies did not have a written language rather passed on their history, literature, and culture through oral tradition. Griots were storytellers who would make kings famous for generations.

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